First Year

“It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right. I hope you had the time of your life.” –Good Riddance, Green Day

My freshman year of college ended with tears, bone-crushing hugs, and many exclamations of “I’ll see you soon.” I never expected that a small Pitt branch campus in the middle of nowhere would lead me down a path to meeting the most incredible group of people I know. Of course, I can’t begin the story from the ending.

I’m a firm believer in that things can happen for a reason. I definitely think there was a good reason behind my decision to go to Pitt Greensburg. Sure, saving a large amount of money and getting more one-on-one attention with professors was a big part of it, but there was a greater reason for my coming here. It was more in my comfort level, it was similar to Lewisberry, and it was an easier adjustment to being three hours from home. Going in, I thought I was going to sit in my room and never socialize, only attending the required events and keeping to myself. I was 100% wrong. My group of friends have brought me to realize that I can be myself and still have people who are willing to be around. Because of them, I am more open and sociable. I have been exposed to new thoughts and experiences, ones that I never would have gotten into before. They helped me to realize I don’t always have to be alone, okay, or strong. I guess it would help to say that we call ourselves the Sweatys, which consists of Becca, B, Brandon, Cam, Haley, Summer, and I. We have other friends too, but this group is like the core of most memories I’ve made this year.

Here are my top five favorites from my first year in college with my favorite people.

Surprise for Summer: All of the Sweatys gathered in 10fun to celebrate the birthday of the youngest in the group. Everyone managed to keep it a secret, which made it extremely easy to pull off, and Summer had no idea. Haley and I had managed to bake and decorate a cake, and with the help of B, blow up two bags of balloons to scatter the floor.  When she finally came home, we shocked her so much that she started to cry (happy tears, of course). We all laughed together, hugged, ate a homemade cake with way to much icing on it, and simply enjoyed each other’s presence. This was a night in which everyone was in high spirits, and I went to bed with a feeling of content. A picture is also posted above that embodies this college family and the night we spent in fun.

Sledding at Midnight: After the first of a few Mead House jam sessions, the Sweatys and friends from another room decided to go sledding in the fresh snow outside the building. We didn’t have real sleds, so we improvised and used trash bags, which worked just as well. This was the first night I felt connected to the people around me, a night in which I was reminded of how much I truly appreciated their friendship. We didn’t worry about how loud we were, how dirty and muddy we were getting, or what tricks we’d attempt. We just had fun. No stress over papers, or labs, or exams, we were just a group of college kids having a good time. This night reminded me that college doesn’t have to be about partying or drinking until your memory is wiped. It can be about having the time of your life and remembering it the next day, and honestly it is so much more fun that way.

Trips to Pittsburgh Parts 1, 2, and 3: The first time some of the Sweatys (Becca, B, Brandon, Summer, and I) went to Pittsburgh  for the day was a new experience for all of us. We tried new things, drank our weights in bubble tea, and gave Becca the chance to see the city at night from the overlooks for the first time. The second time was with Delaney, Lily, and Haley to see Disney on Ice. We may have been a little bit more excited than most of the little children there. One woman asked us if we were in the theatre club at school, we replied with “Nope, we just really love Disney.” We weren’t embarrassed when we knew all the lyrics to every song, and it was an incredible show! The third trip to Pittsburgh was with Becca, B, and Haley, and we did a little bit of everything. We went to Seoul Mart for Choco-pies. We ate salads as big as our heads at Hello! Bistro, got cute cupcakes from a small shop, and went to Point State Park and sat on the stairs near the water to talk about everything and nothing. All three of these trips were remarkable getaways from the stress of campus, and ended up holding memories that will last a lifetime.

Seeing Green Day Live: My aunt and cousin had an extra ticket to go see the iconic band, Green Day, and of course I accepted their offer. I grew up listening to Green Day with my siblings and cousins, so this was a huge deal to me. I never thought I would get the chance to see them in concert, but now I have their tour shirt to remind me that it wasn’t a dream. I chanted, scream-sang the lyrics, and put the rock on symbol in the air.  For the finale they performed one of my favorite songs, Good Riddance, and I started to tear up. I felt a sense of peace wash over me as the confetti rained down during the final chords. In that moment, I smiled to myself and realized that in this year, I’m having the time of my life.

Late Nights in the Gazebo: Oftentimes when we are bored, the Sweatys go for walks. We go to Twin Lakes, to the tree hidden in the woods behind campus, and at 2am we go to the gazebo next to the library. This has become a place of solitude. A place we can say whatever we want without being judged. We sing. We share secrets. We play our favorite songs at the moment. It’s just a place we can be under the stars and with each other. In that gazebo, I told of the darkest time in my life, something I never spoke of to anyone, not even my mom. My friends didn’t criticize me or look at me differently. Each one of them gave me a hug, and reminded me how lucky I am that things are better now. That very day, I knew. I had the greatest group of people come into my life this year. I found my people, and they made the biggest difference in my life.

So my advice to you, the reader, is this. Do your best. Be yourself. And choose to live your life and experience it rather than just survive. Do this, and you can find your people, too.

All My Love,



Find Your Space

“Find your place of peace and carry it with you always.” -Unknown

I was always very independent. Typically, I opted to spend my days in my bedroom at home, reading books, listening to music, or watching my favorite movie for the hundredth time over going out with friends. It didn’t bother me much, I preferred to be left to myself and my thoughts. My parents were more concerned than I was.

My mom and dad would tell me, what seemed like every other day, to go out or call a friend asking them to come over. My usual answer was, “No, I’m good,” and oftentimes I was. I was unconcerned with the fact that I wasn’t considered popular, I had few friends I actually enjoyed talking to, and I was alone. I was content to be on my own. My parents understand for the most part, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t afraid for me. They told me if I don’t want to be around other people, I should at least have a place I can go to let what troubles me fall away. I took this advice in stride.

For those who haven’t been to Central Pennsylvania, most of it is farmland and in the center is the oddly small capital of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg. Living in a small town means that there really aren’t many things to do or places to go. Sure we have Hersheypark and other entertainment, but it was a bit of a drive if you wanted to get almost anywhere. It was a miracle that I even found a lonely horse trail hidden in the heart of Pinchot State Park.

Funny, this place is perfect for me. Isolated, barely used to its full potential, often forgotten.

The hardest part is finding the entrance. On the right of a main road, just past a seemingly ancient cemetery, is a narrow path surrounded by foliage. It’s difficult to see that this path can fit a car, and it is difficult to fit a 2003 Ford Expedition through it. Once found though, the rest is fairly simple. A walkway leading down a steep hill beckons me to draw closer. I’m long past the point of hesitation to comply. Banking right at the lake, I can hear the splashing of water. Then I see it, my favorite place.

Tucked away from the lake, the nook holds tumbled rocks with water running over them. This place looks like something out of a movie, but you won’t see cameras here. I jump from rock to rock to get to the other side of the brook, where a thin path awaits. I continue walking until I get to my special place. Three rocks jut out from the lapping water. I jump on the first two to get to the third, the farthest into the water.

I don’t know what it is about water that I am drawn to. No matter if it’s an ocean, a river, or a lake. I always want to be near it. Maybe it’s the calm sound of shifting liquid. Perhaps the smell of the salty or sweet air. I am unsure. All I know is that it is one of the only places where I can think clearly and be on my own.

I like to think about the concepts of life, love, friendship, anything really that comes to mind. I take the book in the picture above with me when I come here. I write down all the ideas, thoughts, and sometimes poems in my little, poorly bound notebook. It’s cleansing to be able to let loose the jumble going on inside my head. There’s no need for someone else to entertain. No need for worry. No need for interaction with others. I am able to just lose myself in the wind whistling through the trees and the ripples on the water. I give my attention over to the wildlife, watching every movement and wondering why things are what they are.

I guess a scientist’s brain never loses an opportunity to conduct an analysis or question the laws of nature, but I don’t mind much. I’m used to overthinking and overanalyzing everything, but here, I am doing both in a more relaxed way.

Finding a place to be free from the stresses of civilization and society is so important for having a healthy mind. We all need a little peace at some point. I carry that overgrown horse trail in Pinchot with me everywhere I go, for that is where my best thoughts can be found.

All My Love,